The pace at which technology has changed over the last few decades, and continues to do so, has been impressive to say the least. The computers, processors, and electronics of tomorrow are going to be even better and faster. This means any product - no matter how advanced it is - being developed today will have some or a lot of catching up to do every now and then.
For new age fighters, upgradability will be the key. It is for this very reason that Gripen E has been developed with future progress in mind. “The future pilot will need the ability to continuously upgrade the hardware and software and not get stuck in old functionality; this is of increasing importance,” says Saab’s Wing Commander Flying and Gripen test pilot Hans Einerth.
So, how does Saab build a system that is ready for tomorrow, a fighter that will have an edge in an uncertain future?
The answer is 'Split Avionics'. Separating flight critical and mission critical means a less complicated system that allows for easy modifications. Here is how it works at so many levels.
Gripen avionics system separates 10% of core flight critical management codebase from 90% of tactical management code. This results in avionics that are hardware agnostic, leaving the tactical management to be integrated with new features without the need to re-certify the flight critical software.
Saab’s Avionic Management System (AMS) for Gripen is the first truly open architecture avionics platform. Conscious decoupling of a list of its elements ensures that individual features are self-contained. The AMS boasts of multiple hardware and software abstraction layers that enable any part of the architecture to be modified or replaced with minimal system impact, which means operators can control the design process and make changes independently from Saab.
Gripen E avionics does not just counter complexity and prospective future redundancy, it drives cost effectiveness as well. Typically, fighter operators go for mid-life upgrades that are both expensive and time consuming. But with Gripen, you can take small steps of upgrades and be ready to counter the latest threats.
Split avionics is also one of the major reasons why Gripen E development is on course. Both 39-9 and 39-10 prototype are being developed on time with many new features added. This establishes the fact that Gripen E's split avionics ensure rapid integration and validation of new components and capabilities without elaborate testing.